Senior Writer

Buckeyes would be fickle to not stick with Fickell


Luke Fickell is my guy. He should be your guy, too, Bucknuts. Ohio State's post-Tressel, Hazmat expert -- you can also call him interim coach -- scored the program's first points of the season this week when he admitted to not taking Terrelle Pryor's calls.

After watching Fickell's presser on Monday, I'm all in. You want discipline? You start by shunning the entitled rogue who put the program in this bind.

You want a proven coach? That's going to be a problem. Fickell didn't get the gig because of his experience. He was a gutty nose guard who started 50 career games for the Buckeyes. In nine seasons on the staff -- all on defense -- he has been a solid, loyal soldier, a co-defensive coordinator since 2005.

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Fickell, 37, got the job because of his youth and his upside. Unless there are some incriminating emails somewhere we don't know about, Fickell should be able to get Ohio State to 9-3. At least.

That's where it gets interesting. Fickell will get the permanent position because few of substance will want it. At least it's trending that way. If, as expected, the NCAA brings the hammer, it just won't be that good of a job. Certainly not good enough for Urban Meyer, or Gary Patterson or Bo Pelini or most of the other go-to names who have surfaced.

Hold onto your coolers, Horseshoers. That's not to say Ohio State isn't a good job. During times of NCAA peace, it is one of the top five in the country. But there is the Ohio State of today and the Ohio State of a few months from now, when the NCAA issues its verdict.

"I will take the shot," Fickell said, "any way I can."

This is more reasoned analysis than prediction: He'll get the job because Ohio State needs stability. He'll get it because he's not likely to run the program into the ground. The support system surrounding him is still excellent.

Fickell will get it because he is willing to become the next Ron Zook, the Florida version who followed Steve Spurrier. He'll get it because the other guys won't want it. They are accomplished coaches who want to win, not fix.

Put in terms that Pryor could understand, the current Ohio State is a late model Nissan 350Z -- a few nicks but capable of high speeds -- the future Ohio State is a beat-up, high-mileage Hyundai Sonata leaking oil.

Which would you want to drive off the lot?

Fan Poll

Who will Ohio State hire to be its next coach?

Luck Fickell
Urban Meyer
Gary Patterson
Bo Pelini
Jon Gruden
Somebody else

Total Votes: 3,644

Ask yourself: Does Meyer want to re-enter the game facing a postseason ban and the loss of multiple scholarships? Does Patterson want to leave a comfortable cocoon in Fort Worth where he can chase BCS bowls and rule the Big East the same way he did the Mountain West?

Even Pelini, a Youngstown guy, would have to think twice about leaving Nebraska. Mark Dantonio? Maybe. Jon Gruden? Probably. But what job isn't Gruden interested in after three years out of the NFL and 20 years removed from a college job?

The answers will emerge from a less-than-amused NCAA infractions committee, possibly as soon as the 2011 season. Forget about limiting the wrongdoing to the Buckeye Five having their hands out. Recent developments suggest a culture of cheating going back years.

Sports Illustrated asserted that at least 28 players received extra benefits from one tattoo dealer or another. Nine of those, the magazine said, were players on the current team.'s Bryan Fischer reported that the Big Ten and Ohio State can't get their stories straight. ESPN quoted an anonymous former friend of the quarterback that Pryor received between $20,000 and $40,000 in return for gear and his signature.

The NCAA could put off that Aug. 12 infractions committee hearing to consider these new allegations, extending the agony. Already in line for enhanced penalties due to its status as a repeat violator, Ohio State could also have the dreaded "lack of institutional control" label slapped on it.

WWUMD -- What would Urban Meyer want to do with all that?

Or Gary Patterson?

Or Bo Pelini?

Ohio State football isn't going away. In fact, it is among the few hit with major penalties that could rebound relatively quickly. It's just not likely to get its man.

That makes Fickell the man.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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